Nicole Smith-Holt – Richfield, MN: Nicole is a Minnesota state employee and a mother of four children from a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. One of her sons, Alec, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at age 24. When he turned 26, Alec was no longer eligible to remain on the family’s insurance plan and soon discovered, when he went to pick up his diabetic supplies and insulin, that his copay would be $1,300. Alec tried to ration the insulin he did have until his next paycheck, but was found dead in his apartment as a result of diabetic ketoacidosis. Her testimony may be found here.
Stahis Panagides – Bethesda, MD: Stahis is an 80-year-old retiree who lives with his wife in Maryland. Three years ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. His neurologist recommended a new course of treatment, but when he found out that it would cost more than $400 per month, even with a supplemental Medicare plan, he had to refuse taking it. Though his disease is being treated with alternative therapies, Stahis was shocked that even with his coverage, he could not afford his medication. His testimony may be found here.
John Glaser – Alexandria, VA: John is a retired social worker who worked for 18 years as a grassroots organizer with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare. John is a current Medicare beneficiary and has been enrolled in the program for the past 14 years. His annual prescription drug costs have been in the thousands of dollars. His testimony may be found here.
Marques Jones – Richmond, VA: Marques was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2008 and takes a drug that costs about $75,000 annually. Despite having robust insurance coverage, Marques’s annual out-of-pocket spending on drug co-pays and insurance premiums for his family of five is very high. This has led Marques to become a vocal advocate for those who also suffer from chronic illness. His testimony may be found here.
Leigh Purvis – Director, Health Services Research, AARP Public Policy Institute: Leigh Purvis is the Director of Health Services Research in AARP’s Public Policy Institute. She is a recognized expert on prescription drug issues and coauthor of AARP Public Policy Institute’s annual Rx Price Watch reports, which track price trends for prescription drugs widely used by older Americans. Her testimony may be found here.
Senate Democrats to Hold Hearing with Americans Who Are at Risk of Losing Health Coverage Because of Pre-Existing Conditions
On Thursday, August 16th at 10:00 AM, Senate Democrats will hold a hearing titled, “America Speaks Out: Protecting Care for Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions.” The Senators will hear testimony from Americans with pre-existing conditions who would be hurt by Republican efforts to expand junk insurance plans and take away their health coverage.
Elena Hung – Silver Spring, MD: Elena is the president and co-founder of the Little Lobbyists. Her daughter, Xiomara, was born with complex medical needs and has required extensive medical care throughout her life, including a tracheostomy, ventilator, and feeding tube. For Elena’s family, protections for children with pre-existing conditions, prohibitions against lifetime caps, and Medicaid are critical to ensuring Xiomara’s care. Her testimony can be found here.
Chelsey Schaumberg – Seymour, WI: Chelsey is a social studies teacher and mother of three. Chelsey’s oldest daughter, Zoe, was born with a congenital heart defect that required her to have open-heart surgery at five days old, the first of many surgeries Zoe will face during her lifetime. Chelsey and her husband worry that eliminating protections for patients like their daughter will jeopardize her ability to get affordable coverage. Her testimony can be found here.
Sam Bloechl – Chicago, IL: Sam is a self-employed small-business owner from Chicago. When he left his job to start his small business, he made sure he had health insurance and even worked with an insurance broker to make sure he had a better plan. What Sam did not know was that these junk plans are not covered by the ACA’s protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions, which he discovered when he was diagnosed with Stage IV T-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an aggressive but treatable form of blood cancer. Sam now faces nearly $1 million in outstanding medical bills. His testimony can be found here.
Dr. Constance Bohon – Washington, DC: Dr. Bohon is a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist in Washington, DC. She has 35 years of experience and has dedicated her career to improving health outcomes for women. Her testimony can be found here.
Erin Price – Alexandria, VA: In 2010, Erin was 27 when she was diagnosed with Stage IIB breast cancer. She put off getting checked after finding a lump on her breast because she was covered by COBRA in between switching employers and feared that she would lose coverage if she was discovered to have a pre-existing condition. Now, Erin is cancer-free but relies on the ACA’s patient protections in order to secure insurance that will allow for ongoing care to treat the long-term side effects of her chemotherapy and radiation. Her testimony can be found here.
Senate Democrats, Survivors, Family Members to Hold Hearing on Protecting Children from Gun Violence
On Wednesday, March 7th at 4:00pm, U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) will co-host a Senate Democrats hearing entitled “America Speaks Out: Protecting Our Children from Gun Violence.” The Senators will hear testimony from survivors of gun violence and family members who want Congress to take swift action to strengthen our nation’s gun laws.
David Hogg, 17-year old student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – Since a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that claimed the lives of 17 of his fellow classmates, David Hogg has been a prominent voice in the student-led movement against gun violence.
Fred Guttenberg, father of Jaime Guttenberg, age 14, who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – Since his daughter’s death, Fred has been speaking out against gun violence and recently participated in a CNN Town Hall where he spoke with Senator Marco Rubio about his positions on gun violence prevention. His testimony can be found here.
Francine Wheeler, mother of Ben Wheeler, age 6, who was killed in the 2013 Sandy Hook Shooting – Since the death of her son, Francine and her husband, David, have been advocating for gun safety reforms such as universal background checks. Her testimony can be found here.
Lori Haas, mother of a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting and Virginia State Director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence – Lori’s daughter Emily was one of 17 people wounded in the attack at Virginia Tech in 2007. Following her daughter’s recovery, Lori became an advocate to urge law enforcement, faith leaders, survivors, and elected officials to enact tougher gun laws. Her testimony can be found here.
Kim Bose, mother of Joseph Bose, age 20, who killed by gun violence in 2015 – Kim’s son, Joseph, was a student at Hampton University when he was shot and killed while visiting friends in 2015. Kim has since become an advocate for gun safety legislation. Her testimony can be found here.
Hank Stawinski, Police Chief of the Prince George’s County Police Department – a 25-year veteran of the Prince George’s County police force, Chief Stawinski will discuss the effect of gun violence on law enforcement. The Prince George’s County Police Department recently lost an officer who was shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence incident. His testimony can be found here. His testimony can be found here.
Eva Jones, high school student and gun violence prevention activist –Eva lives in a rural community in Oregon and she is concerned that students must now live with the ever-present fear of gun violence in their schools and communities. She is organizing a school-wide and countywide walkout calling for change. Her testimony can be found here.
Katrina Kickbush, a 22-year veteran teacher –Katrina is a special education teacher in Baltimore. She will discuss the emotional toll active shooter drills take on students and explain why it is not feasible to arm teachers as a way to prevent gun violence. Her testimony can be found here.
U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Patty Murray (D-WA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) attended the hearing.
Democracy for Sale: How Our Broken Campaign Finance System Allows Foreign Governments to Buy Influence in Our Elections and What We Can Do About It
Ellen Weintraub, Washington, DC